Ireland’s first utility-scale solar farm developed under the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS) has connected to the national grid.
The 8MW Millvale solar farm has been developed by Neoen, and includes 33,600 solar modules installed across 25 hectares in Co. Wicklow .
"Historically Ireland has had a singular reliance on onshore wind for our renewable electricity. With RESS 1 we sought to create technology diversity and to promote the emerging solar industry in Ireland. I am delighted to see Millvale energise; this is Ireland’s first grid-scale solar project under RESS,” minister for the environment, climate and communications, Eamon Ryan said, as he formally opened the site on 29 April.
"This is the first of many solar projects expected to energise under the RESS this year. It’s a key starting point on our journey, under the Climate Action Plan, to install up to 2.5GW of solar energy on the electricity system by 2030."
The RESS 1 auction took place in 2020, with solar taking 796MW across 63 projects from 20 companies. The strike price from the auction – at €74.08/MWh (£66.90/MWh) – was “significantly higher than anywhere else in Europe” according to the Irish Solar Energy Association due to high grid connection costs in the country, which remains a significant barrier for the rollout of further solar.
However, activity in the Irish solar sector is still picking up pace, with EDF Renewables Ireland breaking ground on three new solar farms with a total capacity of 17MW, NTR acquiring a 54MW portfolio of co-located solar and storage projects in Co. Wexford and Highfield Solar securing financing for the development of two sites totalling 282MWp in 2021, amongst other developments.